Chair, Department of History
PhD, University of Cambridge, 1995
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84964
Office: Lawson Hall 2201B
Tuesdays 2:00pm-4:00pm or by appointment.
I am an international historian interested in international organizations, 20th century global trade, the British Commonwealth, Canada’s engagement in world affairs, and global order. When I was a student, diplomatic history focused on the most powerful nations, the pursuit of power, and conflicts and wars. But I was always interested in the efforts of people, groups and governments – including those of smaller countries - to cooperate. Those interests have guided my research for the last twenty-five years. In my first book, Redefining the Bonds of Commonwealth 1939-1948 (2002), I explain how Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African independence was advanced during the Second World War by redefining partnerships and expectations in the British Commonwealth. In Parties Long Estranged (co-edited with Margaret MacMillan, 2003) the contributors examine the interactions between and parallel developments of Canada and Australia, two self-described middle powers that are often relegated to footnotes in histories of international affairs. In A Global History of Trade and Conflict since 1500 (co-edited with Lucia Coppolaro, 2013), the contributors examine how the pursuit of trade has sparked violence, coercion, repression, conflict, and wars. More recently, Dominion of Race (co-edited with Laura Madokoro and David Meren, 2017) examines the impact of race-thinking on Canada’s involvement in world affairs. My work has also been published in The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, The International History Review, Journal of Cold War Studies, and International Journal, as well as in edited collections.
My next book is GATT and Global Order in the Postwar Era (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press). I explore the institutional and international history of a significant but incompletely understood organization through case studies of the Cold War, the EEC and regionalism, agriculture, and development. I explain how economic and political factors and objectives defined trade policies, relations, and negotiations, explore the dynamic between nationalism and internationalism, show that the liberal order was progressive and conservative, fluid and rigid, and demonstrate that there were multiple and competing visions of global order. The working title of my next research project is The World They Wanted and the World They Feared: Planning for Peace during the Second World War. It is a collective biography in which I examine how influential individuals outside of government imagined, and planned for, a new and better future after the war.
Studying the past involves collection, investigation, interrogation, and interpretation. As a teacher, I stress the importance of asking questions and independent thinking. These skills serve students well in and out of the classroom. History matters for its own sake, but it also matters to the present and future. The physical, social, cultural, intellectual, political and diplomatic worlds in which we live are accretions of the past, although the layers are not always visible. History also confers legitimacy, shapes identities, and justifies government policies and individual decisions. There is no single interpretation of the past, but history can be abused and misused. Studying history allows us to ask questions about our communities, societies and world, to see why and how change has occurred, and to reflect critically on the many ways people make sense of the past today.
I teach first year classes, graduate seminars, and all levels in between. Recently, I was part of the teaching team in HIS1810 – Wars that Changed the World. I lectured on the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War. I am involved in the undergraduate program in International Relations. I regularly co-teach the capstone seminar – IR4702. At the graduate level, I teach the course on professional development for second year doctoral students.
I supervise M.A. and Ph.D. students whose research relates to international trade, international relations, Canada’s international history, and the history of the British Commonwealth. I welcome inquiries from students interested in post-graduate study at Western.
(2017) ‘Where was Trade at Bretton Woods?’, in G. Scott Smith and S. Rofe, eds, Global Perspectives on the Bretton Woods Conference and the Post-War World Order (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 163-180.
(2017) ‘Race, Empire and World Order: Robert Borden and Racial Inequality at the Paris Peace Conference 1919‘ in Madokoro, McKenzie and Meren, eds, Dominion of Race: Rethinking Canada’s International History (University of British Columbia Press), pp. 73-93.
(2016) ‘Imperial Solutions to International Crises: Alliances, Trade and the Ottawa Imperial Economic Conference of 1932’ in R. Smith, E. Pedaliu, and J. Fisher, The Foreign Office, Commerce and British Foreign Policy 1900-2000 (Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 165-187.
(2014) ‘Free Trade and Freedom to Trade: Exports, Markets and the Development Challenge to GATT, 1948-1968’ in M. Frey, C. Unger and S. Kunkel, eds, International Organizations and Development: Shifting Visions of a Contested Paradigm, (Palgrave MacMillan), pp. 150-170.
(2014) ‘Faith, Fear and Free Trade’, International Journal, 2014, Vol. 69 (2): 233-245.
(2013) ‘Trading Blocs and Trading Blows: GATT’s Conflictual Path to Trade Liberalisation, 1947-1967’ in L. Coppolaro and F. McKenzie, eds, A Global History of Trade and Conflict since 1500 (Palgrave Macmillan), pp.163-187.
(2013) 'The Last Ditch Defender of National Sovereignty at Geneva': The Realities Behind Canadian Diplomacy During the Ethiopian Crisis’ in G. B. Strang, ed., Collision of Empires: Italy’s Invasion of Ethiopia and its International Impact (Ashgate), pp. 165-184.
(2013) 'Trade, Dominance, Dependence and the End of the Settlement Era in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, 1920-1973' in C. Lloyd, J. Metzer and R. Sutch, eds, Settler Economies in World History (Brill), pp. 463-489.
(2012) Short Biographical essay on, 'Eric Wyndham White' in The Biographical Dictionary of Secretaries - General of International Organizations, B. Reinalda and K. Kille, eds, https://www.ru.nl/politicologie/io-bio-bob-reinalda/io-bio-biographical-dictionary-sgs-ios/
Awards and Distinctions
2012-13 - Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, Department of History, Harvard University
2009-10 - USC Teaching Honor Roll, Award of Excellence in Teaching, UWO
I am on the editorial board for the series "New Approaches to International History" at Bloomsbury Press
“Race and Canada’s International History: Identity, Interests, and Interactions”, a workshop sponsored by the Weatherhead Centre for International Relations, Harvard University, 1-3 May 2013.
"Unpeaceable Exchange: Trade and Conflict in a Global Economy, 1000-2000." A Joint Workshop Between The University of Western Ontario and the Instituto de Ciências Socias. ICS - University of Lisbon. 16-17 July 2010.